Aug 17, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Hill: The deaths bring the toll of American soldiers killed by their local counterparts to 11 in the past two weeks.
The killing of two U.S. special-forces troops by a member of the Afghan National Security Forces on Friday brings the death toll of American soldiers killed by their local counterparts to 11 in the past two weeks.
The two American soldiers were part of a U.S. special-operations team tasked with training local Afghan military and police forces in Farah province in Western Afghanistan, according to reports in The New York Times.
The U.S. special forces team had just wrapped up training operations when Mohammad Ismail, a new recruit to the local police force, turned his weapon on the American trainers and opened fire, Aqa Noor Kentoz, the police chief of Farah province, told the Times.
Two American team members and one Afghan police officer were killed, and another U.S. special-forces operator was wounded during the exchange.
The 60-year-old Ismail had only been in training as an Afghan police officer in the Bala Bolok district of Farah province for two weeks before Friday’s shooting, the Times reports.
Two more American soldiers were wounded in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan when an Afghan National Security Forces member shot at U.S. and NATO troops on Friday. Aside from the two wounded U.S. troops, no coalition forces were killed in the attack.
Including Friday’s shootings in Farah province, 11 American soldiers have been killed by Afghan forces over the past two weeks in what the Pentagon is now calling “insider attacks.”
Last Sunday, six U.S. and coalition soldiers were killed by members of the Taliban in two separate incidents in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
Those shootings came a day after three members of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command were killed by a local Afghan commander in the village of Musa Qala.
The troops were invited to a dinner by the Afghan commander and members of the local Afghan police force in Musa Qala. After the meal, the commander opened fire, killing three and wounding one.
“I’ve been very concerned about these incidents … because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday at the Pentagon.
“It’s dangerous. And we’ve got to do everything we can do to try to prevent it,” he told reporters during the briefing.
The Pentagon is planning to ramp up counterintelligence operations to ferret out insurgents or sympathizers who might have infiltrated the ranks of American, NATO and Afghan forces.
DOD officials in Afghanistan are also taking steps to improve how prospective Afghan military or police candidates are screened, zeroing in on certain personality traits or characteristics that could make a recruit susceptible to being tapped by the Taliban or other terror groups.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for several of these attacks on U.S. and coalition troops. They come as the terror group has launched its “Al-Farooq” operations, which is what Taliban leaders have dubbed their ongoing spring offensive against American and coalition forces.
However, Panetta noted the spike in such insider attacks against coalition forces was a sign that Taliban fighters are being forced to go to great lengths to disrupt the progress being made in the country.
“The reality is, the Taliban has not been able to regain any territory lost, and so they’re resorting to these kinds of attacks to create havoc,” the DOD chief said.